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Stackyard News Jan 05
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Cattle Industry Joins Forces Against Johnes'

The National Beef Association has joined with dairy farmers, academic institutes, pharmaceutical companies, and vets to launch an industry driven attack against Johnes' disease.

Defra has agreed to act as facilitators and provide market funding to assist this pioneering initiative which is backed by the BCVA, NFU, IAA, MDC, Holstein Uk, SAC, Biobest and RABDF.

"The partnership, which is an extension of the Association's cattle health committee, is the first to react to the Johnes' challenge on a cross-UK basis and across all sectors of the cattle industry," said NBA policy advisor, Kim-marie Haywood.

"Johnes' is a growing threat and must be challenged nationally because each case costs the owner and the industry around £850 as a result of beef or milk production losses, infertility, premature culling and reduced resistance to other diseases."

One of the group's aims is to establish the extent of the disease within the cattle herd. This is important because of its spasmodic emergence and difficulties with diagnostic testing and control - especially in younger animals.

"More beef farmers are breeding their own suckler replacements and if they do not know the disease is present it will multiply within the herd and create ever increasing problems," said Ms Haywood.

"Its long incubation period, during which its impact on the animal is initially invisible, makes it especially dangerous and it is because of this that the health status of breeding replacements, including bulls, that are introduced into new herds has to be high so purchasers can feel confident."

In other EU countries the development of national disease policies has been achieved with some government assistance and the NBA hopes to encourage Defra to extend its support for the anti-Johnes' campaign.

In March, the new partnership will conduct a workshop in London to gather the most up to date information on disease prevalence, control measures, and costs and benefits to the industry.

"Specialists invited to the workshop will hear speakers from the UK, Europe and Australia explain how they have developed industry awareness, management and control policies for Johnes disease," said Ms Haywood.

"It is hoped this will help the UK develop its own anti-Johnes' action plan that will be used in addition to initial preventative work such as that already pioneered by the Welsh Black breed."

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National Beef Association

Department for Environment
Food and Rural Affairs